« PředchozíPokračovat »
almost out of knavery !--Chastity, never once in harin's way! and courage, like a Spanish soldier upon an Italian stage,-a bladder full of wind ! Hark! that the sound of that trumpet,-let not my soldier run ;~'tis some good Christian giving alms. O, Pity! thou gentlest of human passions! soft and tender are thy notes, and ill accord they with so loud an instrument !
Thus something jars, and will for ever jar in these cases : Imposture is all dissonance, let what master soeper of it undertake the part; let him hatmonize and modulate it as he may, one tone will contradict another; and whilst we have ears to hear, we shall distinguish it; 'tis truth only which is con. sistent and ever in harmony with itself: it sits upon our lips, like the natural notes of some melodies, ready to drop out, whether we will or no;-it racks no invention to let ourselves alone, and needs fear no critick to have the same excellency in the heart which appears in the action.
It is a pleasing allusion the scripture makes use of in calling us sometimes a house, and sometimes a temple, according to the more or less exalted qualities of the spiritual guest which is lodged within us. Whether this is the precise ground of the distinction, I will not affirm; but thus much may be said, that, if we are to be temples, 'tis truth and singleness of heart which must make the dedication : 'tis this which must first distinguish them from the unhallowed pile, where dirty tricks and impositions are practised by the host upon the traveller, who tarries but for a moment, and returns not again.
We all take notice, how close and reserved people are; but we do not take notice, at the same time,
that every one may have something to conceal, as well as ourselves; and that we are only marking the distances and taking the measures of self-defence from each other in the very instances we complain of. This is so true, that there is scarce any character so rare as a man of real, open, and generous integrity, who carries his heart in his hand, who says the thing he thinks, and does the thing he pretends. Though no one can dislike the character,—yet discretion generally shakes her head, and the world soon lets him into the reason.
“ O that I had in the wilderness a lodging of way. “ faring men ! that I might leave such a people, and “ go from them !"-Where is the man of a nice sense of truth and strong feelings, from whom the duplicity of the world has not at one time or other wrung the same wish ? and where lies the wilder. ness to which some one has not fled from the same melancholy impulse ?
Thus much for those who give occasion to be thought ill of.--Let us say a word or two unto those who take it.
But to avoid all common-place cant as much as I can on this head, I will forbear to say, because I do not think it, that 'tis a breach of christian charity to think or speak evil of our neighbour, &c.
-We cannot avoid it : our opinions must follow the evidence ; and we are perpetually in such engagements and situations, that 'ris our duty to speak what our opinions are ;--but God forbid that this ever should be done but from its best motive, the sense of what is due to virtue, governed by discretion, and the utmost fellow-feeling. Were we to go on otherwise, beginning with the great broad
cloke of hypocrisy, and so down through all its little trimmings and facings, tearing away, without mercy, all that look'd seemly,—we should leave but a tatter'd world of it.
But I confine what I have to say to a character less equivocal, and which takes up too much room in the world :-it is that of those who, from a general distrust of all that looks disinterested, finding nothing to blame in an action, and perhaps much to admire in it-immediately fall. foul upon its motives : “ Does Job serve God for nought?” What a vile insinuation ! Besides, the question was not, Whether Job was a rich man or a poor man ?-but, whether he was a man of integrity, or no ? and the appearances were strong on his side. Indeed it might have been otherwise ; it was possible Job might be insincere, and the devil took the advantage of the dye for it.
It is a bad picture, and done by a terrible master; and yet we are always copying it ! Does a man, from a real conviction of cheart, forsake his vices ?--the position is not to be allowed.-No; bis vices have forsaken him.
Does a pure virgin fear God and say her prayers ? -She is in her climacterick.
Does humanity clothe and educate the unknown orphan ?-Poverty! thou hast no .genealogies ! See! is he not the father of the child? Thus do we rob heroes of the best part of their glory, their virtue. Take away the motive of the act, you take away all that is worth having in it ;-wrest it to ungenerous ends, you load the virtuous man who did it with infamy.-Undo it all.--I beseech you: give him back his honour, restore the jewel you have
taken from him,-replace him in the eye of the world :
-it is too late! It is painful to utter the reproaches which should come in here. I will trust them with yourselves : in coming from that quarter, they will more naturally produce such fruits as will not set your teeth on edge ;-for they will be the fruits of love and good-will, to the praise of God and the happiness of the world! which I wisb.
THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE.
JUDGES XIX, 1, 2. 3.
And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Isra
el, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of Mount Ephraim, who took unto him a concubine.
A CONCUBINE !--but the text accounts for it ; “ for in those days there was no king in Israel," and the Levite, you will say, like every other man in it, did what was right in his own eyes ;-and so, you may add, did his concubine too," for she played « the whore against him, and went away."
-Then shame and grief go with her; and wherever she seeks a shelter, may the hand of Justice shut the door against her !
Not so ; for she went unto her father's house in Bethlehem-judah, and was with him four whole months.-Blessed interval for meditation upon the fickleness and vanity of this world and its pleasures ! I see the holy man upon his knees, with hands compressed to his bosom, and with uplifted eyes, thanking heaven that the object which had so long shared his affections was fled !
The text gives a different picture of his situation; 6 for he arose and went after her, to speak friendly " to her, and to bring her back again, having his “ servant with him, and a couple of asses : and she « brought him unto her father's house; and when